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Residence life adjusts to enrollment decrease

Halls are closed and Resident Assistants combine roles to accommodate for empty rooms

With Concordia’s requirement to live on campus for the first four semesters, the majority of students in on-campus housing are freshmen and sophomores. These classes are smaller than they have been in the past, which means that Concordia’s residence halls are lacking their usual hustle and bustle.

“Concordia’s enrollment has trended down for a number of reasons,” said Mikal Kenfield, senior associate director of campus life for residential programs. “The number of high school grads that [Concordia] typically pulls from — that number has declined. As that number decreases, that decreases the yield — the actual number of students who come [to Concordia].”

The decreased enrollment has brought some potential challenges to Kenfield’s attention. One of her biggest concerns is creating “good floor communities and [providing] students with options for where they want to live.”

Residence life has tried to combat the challenge of low enrollment by taking Fjelstad offline, as well as the sixth floor of Park Region and the seventh floor of Hoyum.

Even with these floors offline, there are about 60 completely open rooms across campus, most of which are in Hoyum.

“Hoyum is sitting right round 70 percent occupied,” Kenfield said.

Wyatt Steinke, the RA for sixth floor Hoyum, has four empty rooms and 16 total residents.

Steinke believes that his low numbers will have an impact “just in terms of having a wide array of interests on the floor because now that’s fewer people and fewer interests and fewer people interested in all those things,” Steinke said. “It’s kind of hard to pick something that a lot of people are going to be interested in.”

Steinke is not only struggling with creating events for his floor, but he is also concerned with how to create connections among his residents.

“It kind of messes with your mind when you think, ‘how am I going to build a community with only 16 people?’” Steinke said. “It’s tough to get 16 people to bond like you would with 25 or 30.”

MacKenzie Aguirre is a co-RA for fifth floor Hoyum. Having co-RAs is an entirely new idea for the college this year. After hiring Georgia Bell as an RA for seventh floor Hoyum, and having to then close the floor, the college needed to redefine her position.

So, Concordia opted to have Bell and Aguirre team up on the fifth floor, making them co-RAs.

“My duties as an RA didn’t change at all because I was originally on the fifth floor,” said Aguirre. “[Bell’s] however, were kind of up in the air.”

With two separate RAs on a floor, Bell and Aguirre try to divide their tasks.

“We have different responsibilities completely,” Aguirre said. While Aguirre continues to have the RA roles, Bell has been assigned to Assistant RA roles, which involve making and hanging posters and newsletters around the floor.

According to Aguirre, having the co-RA makes it easier to get opinions and ideas for floor events. It’s been especially convenient these first couple weeks since there’s been a lot to do with the floor, like Cobber Expo and the Theme Dance.

Aguirre said having a co-RA can make the job a bit easier, but, Steinke does not have that partnership and faces uncertainty about the year ahead of him. “It’s going to take a little bit to see where the year goes. It could go either way, I guess.”

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